How Do You Know if You Need a Root Canal?

Team Endodontics

When you have a toothache, you just want the pain gone as quickly as possible. If a  filling can’t do the job, your dentist may recommend a root canal

The main benefit of a root canal is that the procedure can save a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted.  

What is a root canal, anyway?

A root canal is a dental treatment used to save a natural tooth. The procedure removes the inflamed or infected pulp—the soft tissue inside the tooth—to save the root. Afterward, a filling or crown may be placed on the tooth to restore its function and shape.

The procedure may be required when a tooth is infected or damaged. The cause of the problem could be a cavity or injury that chipped away at the tooth's protective layers, allowing bacteria to penetrate the pulp. Pain, inflammation, and swelling are the result.

The inflamed pulp can die if not treated promptly, leaving a hole in the tooth that can lead to infection and eventually to tooth loss. Dentists can eliminate the infection and threat of further damage by removing the pulp, which contains blood vessels, connective tissue, nerves, and other soft tissues. 

When Is a root canal necessary?

Bacteria exist in small amounts in a healthy mouth, but saliva and the immune system prevent them from causing damage. However, if any part of the tooth's structure is damaged, bacteria can enter the area near the nerve endings and create further damage.

A root canal may be recommended for the following:

Tooth decay, cavities, or broken fillings. A root canal may be required if decay passes through the enamel and infects the pulp inside the tooth.

Chipped or fractured teeth. A chipped or cracked tooth can expose the sensitive nerves in the center of the tooth, causing pain and making the tooth sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. 

Trauma or accident. A blow to the face or head can cause damage inside the mouth and lead to an abscessed tooth or an infection.

Gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, makes gums weak and soft and can allow bacteria to infect the roots of your teeth. If left untreated, this type of infection can also affect the jawbone.

How is a root canal performed?

The process for a root canal procedure includes several steps, which are performed over 2-3 appointments.

Teeth cleaning and filling. A cleaning will be done to prepare the tooth for the procedure. A local anesthetic will be injected into the area to numb it. Then, the infected pulp inside the tooth is removed using special instruments.

Next, your dentist will insert a filling to protect the area from bacteria before placing a temporary crown on top of the tooth.

Final visit before the permanent crown. Your dentist will check your progress and fit you for a permanent crown. 

Permanent crown placement. A permanent crown will be placed that matches the color and shape of your natural teeth. The procedure can take up to an hour. 

Do you need a root canal?

You may feel pain before you notice any significant changes in your teeth. If you’re in pain or experience symptoms such as swelling or discoloration of your gums, see your dentist immediately.

Your dentist will examine the source of the pain and recommend the appropriate course of treatment—generally a filling, aroot canal, or an extraction—depending on the severity of the infection. 

Eliminate Tooth Pain with Help from Dr. Rajan at Dentistry of Mendham

Don’t put up with dental pain—see Dr. Rajan at Dentistry of Mendham for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Contact us or call 973-543-5700 today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you restore your healthy smile.